The Westfield Police Department is receiving more and more reports of Black Bears in and around residential areas. The most important things you can do to avoid attracting bears to your property is to keep your trash inside as long as possible before putting it on the curb, and even more importantly, do not put bird feeders out. Bears love bird seed. They can smell it from a long distance away and will investigate.
If you do encounter a bear, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife recommends the following:
IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD: A bear’s first response to something unusual is to leave. If a bear is feeding in an area where it doesn’t belong, such as your yard, on a porch, or in a dumpster, step outside, yell, and make lots of noise. The bear will usually leave—accompanied by its young. Habituated bears may ignore minor harassment. If you continue to see bears, check your property and remove any potential food sources.
IN THE WOODS: Black bears are usually wary of people. Normal trail noise will alert bears to your presence and they will often disappear before you see them. If you see a bear, it may not immediately recognize you as a human and may be curious until it scents you. Make the animal aware of your presence by clapping, talking, or making other sounds while slowly backing away. Do not approach bears or intrude between a female bear and her cubs. Keep dogs leashed and stay a respectful distance away.
If a bear is in a populated area, contact the Environmental Police Radio Room at 1 (800) 632-8075 or the nearest MassWildlife District Office to report the sighting and get advice. The mere presence of a bear in a populated area is not a public safety threat and the bear will leave the area on its own. The Environmental Police or MassWildlife will provide advice and determine if a response from the Large Animal Response Team (LART) is necessary.
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